I asked Dave Tremble with the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance to post something on this blog concerning the future plans for the decommissioned Badger Army Ammunition Plant. Dave is the current president of the Alliance and has been closely involved in the Badger Reuse planning process that helped to create a vision for Badger’s future which includes low-impact recreation, prairie and savanna restoration and environmental education.
A Badger Update by Dave Tremble
Badger means different things to different people, but to me it signifies a sense of connection.
Over the years I’ve noticed a great variety of people showing interest in attending events, meetings or discussions at or about Badger, whether to discuss groundwater quality issues or the possibilities for reuse of the land raised by the Army’s decision to decommission the property. Young and old, local and distant, descendants of European settlers or Native Americans, Badger seems to bring people together. They might have different perspectives, and not always agree, but the interest is shared. Some grew up at Badger, on one of the now abandoned farmsteads. Others lived across the road at Bluffview Village, built to accommodate Badger Ordinance workers’ families. Around the state, thousands either worked at Badger or had relatives who worked there between 1942 and the closing of the plant in the mid-1970s.
The Badger Reuse Committee learned that hundreds of former University of Wisconsin students had lived at Bluffview Village after WWII, to complete their educations on the GI Bill. These included, surprisingly, the parents of Committee member and former DNR Secretary Darrell Bazzell, who lived at Bluffview Village as an infant.
Badger formed the Town of Sumpter’s heart, and the old pioneers that organized that township lie buried in its three cemeteries. Badger connects the forested slopes of the Baraboo Hills and the Sauk Prairie, the glacial pothole country northeast of the terminal moraine and the outwash plain to the southwest. A map of the region surrounding Badger reveals its potential to connect Devil’s Lake State Park with the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway; the Sauk Prairie and the 8,000-acre Riverland Conservancy. It will also knit the Sauk County communities of Baraboo, Prairie du Sac and Sauk City more closely as they share the great re-imagining of the Sauk Prairie.
As the Ho-Chunk Nation determines its role we can turn the page on the relationship between immigrants and indigenous people. And in realizing the vision of the Reuse Plan we will create a new bridge between twentieth century ways of seeing the land, and a future of landscape renewal and regeneration.
This is a bit of a postscript to Dave’s post. A draft management plan by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is scheduled to be released this month. This plan will define just what restoration and recreation uses will be allowed at Badger. There is genuine concern that the current WDNR leadership will turn its back on the original substance of the reuse plan
A petition is circulating among supporters of a conservation future at Badger. The petition appeals to the WDNR to stick to its commitment to the Badger Reuse Plan which it signed on to in 2001.
You can read the content of the petition at the following link, and if you would like to sign on, you can do that too: https://www.change.org/petitions/wdnr-ensure-a-conservation-future-for-the-sauk-prairie-on-the-former-badger-lands. Please forward the link and petition to others who would be interested.